Friday, January 15, 2010

The Grapevine: Children's Books

This month's edition of The Grapevine is going to take a bit of a detour from our regular format. Though I'd love to introduce you to a new author (and I will next month!), something in my personal life should be addressed before we go back to business as normal. You see, the rabbit died. Don't know what that means? Your grandma would! For those of use who aren't familiar with that 1927 lab test, maybe this will help... the stick turned pink, I'm exhausted and nauseous, and that sweet, teeny one in the ultrasound photos is a squirmy little thing.

Yup, the Baarts hope to be a party of five by July. I won't lie, it's been a rough road so far. I inject myself with Lovenox (a blood thinner) daily, take extra folic acid and progesterone, and have seen my perinatologist every two weeks since that first positive pregnancy test. But I'm firmly entrenched in my second trimester, and so far everything seems to be going good. With a history of four miscarriages behind me, I'm stunned by the level of peace that I feel... But I truly do believe that whether I hold a baby this summer or whether God sees fit to take her home, His plan for my life is even better than my wildest dreams. For now, we're going to hope and pray those plans include a healthy pregnancy and a baby this summer. I covet your prayers...

Anyway, I thought it would be appropriate this month to talk about children's books. We have an extensive, and much-beloved library, and I'm looking forward to sharing some of my favorites with you. In response, I'd love to hear about some of your favorite children's books! I have babies on the brain, and I'm a firm believer in reading to them from a very young age. In-utero, in fact. ;) In addition to sharing some of my favorite kids' authors, I'll be giving away one of my books. It's a grab-bag, you won't know what you're going to get until you receive it in the mail, but I will try to tailor the choice for the age group you request. So, enjoy my pics, and don't forget to bless me with a few of your own!

Sandra Boynton is definitely one of our favorite children's authors. Her books are witty, silly, and so much fun to read. They're geared more for the younger set, but my kindergartner likes to "read" them to his brother. (He mostly memorizes the cadence of the words and fills in gibberish when he can't remember how it goes!) The best of the best, in our humble opinion, are: Barnyard Dance, The Bellybutton Book, and The Sleep Book.

Robert Munsch rocks. I can't help believing that this Canadian author is still a six-year-old at heart, because he so obviously possesses the mind and soul of a child. His stories are outlandish and fun, and every one is based on a child that he knew or met at one time or another. A classic Munsch in our home is Aaron's Hair because it's all about a boy who has wild hair. If you've seen my husband (Aaron) and his (wild and crazy) hair, you'll know why we love this book. Other great choices are: Alligator Baby, Playhouse, and Just One Goal.

Laura Numeroff stole our hearts with If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. My kids adore watching the consequences unfold, and sometimes enjoy applying the same sort of logic to their own lives. "If you give me a slice of pizza, I'm going to want a glass of juice to go with it..." We own many of these books, and though they follow the same pattern, they never seem to get old. If You Give a Pig a Pancake is our top pick because we take pancakes very seriously at the Baart house. Mmmmm... pancakes.

No childhood library would be complete without a big collection of Dr. Suess. When I was a little girl, my two favorites were McElligot's Pool and The Sleep Book--two lesser-known books that are so charming and sweet I could get choked-up just thinking about them... Okay, that could be the hormones. All the same, if you haven't read those books, run, don't walk, to your nearest library and track them down. You're missing out. We also adore If I Ran the Zoo and Oh, the Places You'll Go!

Though my kids are only six and three, we are big chapter book fans. Even my little one will happily sit through several chapters of a picture-less book. But the stories have to be quick, entertaining, and full of adventure. We're currently hooked on The Boxcar Children. Tell me you're familiar with the Boxcar kids... If not, get thee to a library! Though these books might be considered old-fashioned by some, I love the exciting, kid-friendly storyline and the way that these kids rejoice in the little things in life. The whole series is a blast, but the first book is unparalleled.

Your turn! Tell me about some of your favorite kids' books. And don't forget to leave a comment to enter yourself in the drawing...


  1. Nicole,

    Such wonderful news! I will keep you and your family in my prayers.

    I have an 18-month old son and I'm always looking for book recommendations, so I appreciated this post. Some of our favorites include:

    Hippos Go Berserk by Sandra Boynton

    What Do You Love? by Jonathan London and Karen Lee Schmidt

    Who's Got the Apple? by Jan Loof

    Any of the "World Snacks" books by Amy Wilson Sanger (our personal favorites are First Book of Sushi and Hola! Jalepeno)

    My favorites to read to him are On the Day You Were Born by Debra Frasier (makes me tear up every time) and I'll See You in the Morning by Mike Jolley.

    I think he and I are due for a trip to the library this weekend :-)


  2. Congratulations Nicole, that's such wonderful news! Prayers will be sent your way for the next few months (and beyond of course :)

    Children's books are my area of personal love... and expertise I suppose. Some of my favorites for the young kiddos are: Ma, There's Nothing to Do in Here by Barbara Park (perfect for your older children when waiting for their sibling), Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes by Mem Fox, anything by Amy Krause Rosenthal (especially Little Pea), and The Napping House by Audrey Wood.

    No need to enter me in the drawing, but hopefully you'll find a title that you and the family will enjoy :)

  3. First, CONGRATULATIONS!! We will keep you and your family in your prayers as you await a blessed arrival! So exciting!!

    Second, Jackson LOVES the Boxcar children series - at our house we give book series for Christmas gifts, not always the exciting video game they hope for, but definitely last longer with them!

    I love most children's books and my favorites are maybe cliche'. Goodnight Moon, because that was the only time my baby girl allowed me to snuggle and rock her, along with Runaway Bunny, I Love you This Much, and Time for Bed. (I am clearly too lazy to go find them now and give you authors!) And now we have moved on to Gigi-- what's not to love about her? She is God's princess after all!
    Okay, I could go on forever, (perhaps I have) but I won't!

    Thanks for the contest!

  4. We love Laura Numeroff's books. Always so funny. Of course my kiddo is 10 and now into chapter books. He likes Geronimo Stilton and Goosebumps and Hardy Boys.

  5. And oh my word! Congratulations! Somehow I missed that exciting news on my first read through.

  6. Thanks for the prayers and well wishes! And a special thank you for all the great book suggestions. Many of them I've never heard of... Can't wait to check them out!

    Speaking of kid's books, I've been trying to hunt down a book for nearly a year. I checked it out from the library ages ago, and I can't remember the title or author, but I LOVED the book. In fact, I dream about it. It's about a little girl named Rose (a redhead) whose mother is throwing a big party. Mom tells Rose to go to bed, but when she's chatting on the phone with an uncle, Rose hears the doorbell ring... Of course, Rose becomes an integral part of the festivities, even playing in the band when one member gets sick. And, of course, Mom is never the wiser, and when she finds Rose sound asleep at the end of the night assumes she's been in bed all along. It's the sweetest book and I'd love to own it. Does anyone know what book it is???

  7. That sounds familiar. Is it called While Mama Had a Quick Little Chat???


  8. YES!!!! That's it! I'm on my way to Amazon to buy a copy right now. Thank you so much for remembering the title! :)

  9. Nicole,

    I'm so excited for you. I'll be praying for your growing family! You hit home with a certain topic. Not four for me, but two. I will pray for you.

    I love reading Time for Bed to my girls. "Time for bed little goose, little goose. The stars are out on and on the loose...etc."

    Many rich blessings to you!
    ~ Wendy

  10. Nicole, the rabbit died? Oh my goodness, that's going down in the book of sayings my great-grandmother passed down. Congratulations! You and your family certainly have my thoughts and prayers.

    You've named two of our favorites: Sandra Boynton and Laura Numeroff. We love Shel Silverstein's The Giving Tree, and my 7yo loves the Junie B. Jones series. Fancy Nancy is adorable, too.

    This sounds like a great giveaway!

  11. Oh, congratulations!!!! That is SO exciting, Nicole. My prayers will most definitely be with you and the precious life growing inside you right now.

    Funny you mention Barnyard Dance. I JUST got that for Brogan this Christmas. So fun to sing and dance to!

    My favs would have to be...the classic, Goodnight Moon. Click, Clack, Moo. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. Old School - Harold and the Purple Crayon.

    For older MG books...which I LOVE! The Phantom Tollbooth, Freak the Mighty, and Flying Solo. Oh so good! I read them out loud to my 5th graders every year.

    Congrats again, Nicole!!

  12. Have you ever HEARD Sandra Boynton's books? they are hysterical--and most wonderfully performed...if you're "nice" (haha) I'll loan them to you! ;-)

  13. Even though I am 38, I know all about the rabbit.... Congrats and praying every perfect thing for your family. Blessings and hugs! :O)

  14. I love, love children's books. My most favorite children's books are:

    The Fire Cat by Esther Averill
    The Little House by Virginia Burton
    Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
    Peter Spier's Rain
    The Purple Coat by Amy Hest
    Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney
    First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg

    Do you think you might ever write a children's book?

    Congratulations on your exciting news!

  15. Wendy, miscarriages are hard, aren't they? Three of our four were "late term" which meant I thought I was in the safe zone when we realized that all was not as it should be. Very hard. I've actually considered writing a book about it, but think I might need a bit more time yet.

    Janna and destrella, don't you love "the rabbit died?" Apparently it was the first lab test they came up with to try to diagnose early pregnancy. They injected rabbits with the urine of pregnant women, and if the rabbits died they assumed that hCG (human growth hormone) had killed them. Not so surprisingly ALL the rabbits died... Wonder why?

    Katie, I love Alexander!

    Miriam, YES, I'd love to hear Sandra Boynton!

    Lori, I have considered writing children's books... In fact, I have several that I tinker around with. I mentioned it once to a friend in the industry and she was nonplussed, so maybe I'll have to wait a bit. That's okay--it it's meant to be, they'll be published someday! If not, maybe we should all be grateful. ;)

  16. Nicole, congratulations! I'm very excited for you. My cousin had several miscarriages but she now has two beautiful boys who are adorable. I hope you have the same blessing. My prayers are with you. :)

    On to the book recommendations. BOXCAR CHILDREN! You made my day. I read those in elementary school (not too long ago, haha!) and loved them. I devoured anything Dr. Suess, too. There is one book in particular that I loved very much called Abel's Island by William Steig. You may have heard of it but I thought I'd recommend it. I have fond memories of that as a kid. :) Happy reading!

  17. Again, congratulations to you and Aaron. :) I'm a sucker for those Olivia books ever since my freshman year ENGL 101 professor read us one of the books. They are adorable.

  18. My favorite book as a kid was "There's a Hippopotamus Under My Bed". As an artist I've always been intrigued with books by Ann Jonas as you read from cover to cover, flip the book over and read again and the pictures work for both directions! My daughter's favorite is "Chicka, Chicka, Boom, Boom!"

  19. Came back. Yes, they are hard. I don't even write about them on my blog, just comment about my experience when I feel safe/comfortable enough. Thanks for providing that.
    I'd read your book about it! I went through a wild ride in my faith at that time.
    ~ Wendy

  20. You named so many of my favorite already. I've been reading The Barnyard Dance to our 22 month old granddaughter. I also love the Laura Numberoff books and especially the Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. Our daughter memorized that for speech in high school and now we read it to the little ones.

  21. Oh my goodness!! Congrats to you all!! How exciting for you! I will be praying for you...and for the sweet one nestled within.

  22. i haven't had time to blog recently (my photography business has taken off!)but i still come back to check your blog when i get a chance - and i just happened to stumble upon this entry today - CONGRATS!!!! how exciting!!! i will be praying for an easy and fun pregnancy for you, and a healthy baby!